Two Troy Township property owners are suing the Great Lakes Cheese Company, claiming an expansion project for the cheese-packaging company has robbed them of enjoyment of their properties because of the bright lights, noise and dust and dirt from the project.

Dorothy Malkus and Darlene and Timothy Cox filed the civil suit Oct. 4 in Geauga County Common Pleas Court, seeking more than $25,000 in damages and court order to prevent the noise, lights and dust from coming onto their property.

The suit names Great Lake Cheese Company, Precision Engineering and Contracting Inc., which designed the project, and Dennis Group LLC, which serves as contractor on the project, as defendants in the case.

The case was assigned to Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge Carolyn Paschke.

Great Lakes Cheese officials did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

The suit states Ms. Malkus has lived in her home since 1972 while the Cox family has lived next door since 1996. Until construction began in 2019, the residents said they had no problems, particularly with two ponds on their property.

“In late May and June of 2019, copious amounts of water and silt from Great Lakes’ property ran off into the plaintiffs’ properties, including the plaintiffs’ ponds,” the suit states. “The runoff into the back pond killed many of the fish and changed the color of the water from green to dark brown. As of early October, the pond water still has not regained its prior color. The plaintiffs did not see any fish swimming in the pond from late May until early September.”

Until that change, the residents claim they had used the ponds for fishing and swimming for more than 30 years.

The suit also claims that since April, construction has started at 7 a.m. until after 6 p.m. six days a week and on some occasions started as early at 5 a.m. and as late at 8 p.m.

“The noise from the construction project is extremely loud and almost constant,” the suit states. “The noise interferes with the plaintiffs’ daily activities.”

The suit also states the lights coming from the project extend to their property and “prevent complete darkness at the Cox’s residence.”

“Since the inception of the construction, the plaintiffs’ properties have been constantly inundated with silt,” the suit states. “When the weather is dry, the silt blows onto the plaintiffs’ property, soiling every surface it meets. The silt from Great Lakes’ construction project blows onto the plaintiffs’ homes, patios, garages, cars, decks, playground equipment, pool and anything else outside.”

The lawsuit also cites an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency report after inspections of the work site on June 4 and June 17, 2019. The suit states that the OEPA issued “violation of numerous law and regulations.”

“The defendants were in violation of ORC 6111.04(A)(1), which provides that ‘no person shall cause pollution or place or cause to be placed any sewage, sludge, sludge materials, industrial waste, or other wastes in a location where they cause pollution of any waters of the state.’”

The suit names two other state violations, including the failure to install sediment basins or diversion ditches, as well as the township’s zoning code, which states no property can be used “which will interfere with adjacent landowners’ enjoyment of the use of their lands.”

“The defendants acted negligently on the Great Lakes’ construction project by failing to timely install sediment basins and diversion ditches and also to keep them functional through the course of earth disturbing activity,” the suit claims.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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